American Lung Association Responds to Flu-related Deaths at Detention Facilities, Need for Healthcare, Vaccinations

Statement of American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D., in response to six flu-related deaths of children being held or recently released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the recent acknowledgement by U.S. officials that they will not administer vaccines against seasonal influenza to immigrants in detention:

"Influenza, or flu, is a serious respiratory illness that can be life threatening. Health officials recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination every year. Everyone is at risk for getting and spreading the flu. Children, older adults, and those with asthma or other lung diseases are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu.

"Anyone can get the flu as it is spread easily from person to person, usually when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be acquired from surfaces touched or otherwise contaminated by an infected person, such as door knobs or table tops. Best practices should always be followed to prevent the spread of flu, including within the detention facilities with respect to screening, treatment, isolation and prevention of influenza. To protect the health of those detained, as well as workers within the facilities, their families and communities, appropriate access to soap and water, clean conditions, treatment for illness and the influenza vaccination should be made available.

"Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. The American Lung Association urges that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination each and every year.

"Preventing the spread of the flu is a serious public health concern. The American Lung Association encourages all to use of best practices and preventive measure to reduce the spread of the flu, improve lung health and save lives."

Learn more about the flu and lung health at For media interested in speaking with an expert about influenza and vaccination, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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